It's a Catholic and Anglican tradition to put an ash cross on the forehead of members of the church on Ash Wednesday. Even in the Uniting Church in Australia this custom is happening nowadays, such as in Geelong when our Tongan minister took a lovely service last night using ashes from our written prayers of confession burnt with palm crosses from last year's Palm Sunday. We did this outside the church on a garbage bin lid as we didn't want the smoke alarm in the church to go off. Then the ashes was mixed with oil. Then we moved inside into a quiet reflective time. We had words and wonderful photos put up on the wall by the data projector to remind us of fire and ashes and our lives mixed up by hurting one another and occasionally grace. We had Holy Communion next and the song 'Comfort, comfort, all my people.'
Earlier in the day I had met a senior lady, Mrs Fullerton, at a funeral, and she had a black smudge on her forehead. I thought at first it was a bruise but she said, 'Oh no, I've been to church this morning for Ash Wednesday!" She is the wife of the late Rev Doug Fullerton who was a beloved minister one time at Dudley, a long, long time ago.
from the Fiji Times: